Atlanta's Noonday Sons Discuss Latest Studio Releases May 18, 2020 22:33
Interview by Garrett Laurie: Live & Listen
Photo by Charles Warren
With Covid-19 shutting down every notion of attending a live performance, a lot of us are feeling the hurt, but none like the musicians we know and love. If it weren’t for Widespread Panic’s Never Miss A Sunday Show or Phish’s Dinner & A Movie I, for one, would lose it. Luckily there are working musicians that are seizing this opportunity to write and record on their own time. One of these bands is Noonday Sons, an Atlanta-based quintet that released a single that has been racking up streaming numbers on Spotify. Last month I got to sit down with Charles Warren (lead guitar) to chat about their single, “Run It Back” as well as their newest release that is out today, “Dark Hallways.”
Formed late 2017, Noonday Sons got their start playing college shows across the southeast, as well as in Atlanta. When asked about their originals, Warren notes, “We base our sound around the improvisation we incorporate into our live shows, but we have more of a focus on the songwriting aspect and composition of songs than most jam bands.” Their emphasis on composition is wholly apparent in their debut single, “Run It Back.” The combination of a grungy tone, great groove, and steady rhythm the tune provides a great build which transitions into an expansive jam.
The single has accrued over 50,000 streams on Spotify alone in a mere three-week span. When asked about the time frame from the release Warren states, “We released the single the second full weekend in "quarantine," March 27th. The combination of everyone being pent up for two weeks, and the fact that we ended up on a few playlists helped our stream count-out. It was good luck.” Producing a product like “Run It Back,” does not happen overnight. It requires a great deal of attention, time, and finding the right space to record.
The uniqueness is not only in the song itself, but how recording at a friend’s home studio helped the band own their tune. Warren goes onto say, “We recorded at a studio that our friends built out (fellow Atlanta musicians and members of current touring act Frute). They built out a big studio, because two of their band members majored in audio engineering.” Not only did they record a majority of the tune in their home studio, but self-recorded a substantial portion at home before ultimately having it mastered.
Warren elaborates about how home studios are changing the way music is recorded by saying, “…you have the technology that nobody had 20 years ago to go from tapes to digital recording. The ability to build a room within a room, build your studio out the way you like it, then record at your own pace as you talk through the process with the other guys in the studio, is a great experience. It is so relaxed. Home studios have changed the way that music comes out. People release single after single now. It has become an instant process.” He also chimes in on how the relaxed nature of these studios contributes to putting out an overall well-polished product than well-established recording studios across the country.
When asked about their latest release, “Dark Hallways,” Warren explains that it is a 180-degree turn from their previous release, saying it is, “…not as grungy as it sounds. It'll have more of an Americana sound, with bluegrass and rock undertones. It'll be a completely different sound than "Run it Back." The lighter nature of the track proves this band’s broad range and ability to master a tamer natured track.
Their new release “Dark Hallways” is available as of Thursday, May 14th on all major streaming platforms. After a dark track in “Run It Back,” the brighter track is sure to please. Atlanta friends be sure to check out Noonday Sons at Smith’s Olde Bar after Covid-19 runs its course and things get back to normal.
Special thanks to Madeline Crone & Taylor Dockery for their help with the interview. Check out the pro-shot video for Noonday Sons' “Run It Back” below:
CBDB Ventures "Back in Limbo" With Latest Single May 16, 2020 14:03
Ghost Light's Scotty Zwang Talks McGuire Zwang Duo & Life in Lockdown May 15, 2020 10:47
There is no doubt that we are in the midst of the most uncertain and troubling times that the world of music has ever seen. In nearly the blink of an eye, all forms of live music and entertainment were shut down amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic. The mission of Live & Listen has always been to provide a valuable platform for our favorite bands and musicians to build their audience, and there has never been a more important time do so.
Ever since catching Dopapod for the first time in 2014, I've been absolutely blown away by drummer Scotty Zwang. His energy, stage presence, and technique demands your attention and never fails to entertain from start to finish. Zwang has since moved on and toured with a number of nationally touring acts, most notably Ghost Light, which also features guitarist Tom Hamilton (Joe Russo's Almost Dead), keyboardist Holly Bowling, guitarist Raina Mullen, and bassist Dan Africano.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Scotty to learn a little more about his latest project, McGuire Zwang Duo, as well as how he's coping with life in quarantine. While this is a tremendously challenging time for professional, nationally-touring musicians, folks like Scotty are making the most of the situation and preparing to come back stronger than ever. Check out the full conversation below and make sure to follow McGuire Zwang Duo on all major social channels.
Photo by Donna Winchester: DonnasPics
Well, we're certainly in the midst of some crazy, uncertain times. This pandemic has hit the music industry as hard as any. How is everything going on your end, and what are you doing to stay productive and keep your mind in the right place?
Scotty: For sure. It's definitely a big change of pace. For so many of us, it has taken away what we do for a living, which is performing live. The music industry has evolved in a way that the most important thing you can do now is tour, sell tickets, and sell merchandise. Over the years, album sales have been down a lot. So this pandemic has definitely been tough and very different. The hardest aspect for me is that I live in an apartment. I'm trying as many different ways as possible to get creative. I've shifted a lot of focus to writing music. I will produce or write songs in Ableton, which is a digital workstation that I've grown comfortable with using over the years. It's been challenging to figure out what it is that I can do differently from touring. I've been fortunate to be able to play drums on the road so often, whether it be rehearsals or just having a place to play, that I've never really worried so much about not having a drum kit in my living space. My fiance and I had been looking for a more comfortable living situation, and the spot that we found was an apartment.
There's just no room to set up a drum kit, on top of the noise issue and dealing with neighbors. It's been a major shift, and I've also had to shift my career back to teaching a lot more, which has been incredible. I've definitely realized how much I have missed teaching and just how rewarding it is to teach. Especially younger, or even just newer students, and just kind of kick starting their musicianship with the instrument. I've only been able to do it with a drum pad, but there is so much you can do with just a pair of sticks and a drum pad. Some of my students don't even have a drum pad. They just have their sticks, and they're playing on their bed or a pillow or whatever it might be. In the very early portion of the pandemic, some of them didn't even have sticks. We would just go over rhythm with their hands on percussion instruments or toys at home. I don't have any of that here, so I would just be doing it on a stack of paper plates and bowls (laughs).
Sounds like Trey Anastasio playing on rolls of toilet paper and wine glasses.
Scotty: Yeah, exactly. This pandemic gives you the opportunity to be a little more creative than you normally would have been. So, it's been rewarding in that sense, where I am spending a lot more time writing and teaching. I'm very grateful that I still have some form of income, as well as feeling really fulfilled, finances aside, with teaching, creating new music, or doing whatever it is that I normally wouldn't have time to do because I'm on the road.
I've heard similar feedback from other musician friends who have had to direct all of their efforts to teaching. It's great to see those who are being able to stay busy and generate some new income. I know that hasn't been the case for everyone though.
Scotty: Yeah, for sure. Fortunately, I have my weekly lessons with students that I have built a strong student/teacher relationship with. With the technology of Zoom, Skype, or whatever it is that you're using, this is something that we can even continue when life gets back to normal when we're on the road.
That seems to be one positive from all of this. I feel like a lot of musicians have realized that they can continue to teach virtually and generate additional income throughout the year, which is great to see.
Scotty: Exactly. That's kind of my plan moving forward. Why not? Continue to teach. More so than just the income that's being missed by not touring, it's that much more rewarding to be able to play concerts at night and be able to teach during the day. You can do that from anywhere as long as you have a strong internet connection. That's kind of my plan moving forward from here.
Well let's dive into the McGuire Zwang Duo. Tell me about the backstory. How did this project get started, and how have things progressed to where you are now?
Scotty: Ian (McGuire) and I have been playing music together since just before 2010. We were in a band called Sonic Spank. That's kind of where I started playing a little bit more in the jam scene and primarily the "livetronica," if you will, genre of music. Ian has always been one of my favorite keyboardists, both classically trained from a young age, as well as jazz trained at the Berklee College of Music. He's always been super fun to work with, and we have a great relationship. We're able to think very like minded, rhythmically, on a musical sense. We feed off of each other in a very special and unique way.
When I moved to Philly in 2017, we had talked about doing a new project. There would be these opportunities where someone might need a band to open on a show they're putting together, but there isn't much of a budget. So I was thinking about how I could put something together with as few musicians as possible, in order to get the best bang for our buck. That kind of formed this band, which was originally called McZwang, and we decided to change the name to McGuire Zwang Duo. It sounds a little more profession, and it really helps showcase that it's just the two of us in this thing. Plus, it doesn't sound like a fast food chain (laughs).
It worked pretty well for the Benevento Russo Duo.
Scotty: Exactly. We kind of took a page out of their book. I know they started similarly. There wasn't much of a budget. One of them had a residency at The Knitting Factory and had to figure out how to make that money go around and put more of it in your pocket. So, we've just been working on that. We've been working on an EP and putting out a record, because we haven't had much music out. When we changed the name, we had a little celebration show at this studio here in Philadelphia that also does smaller live shows. We had a gathering where we could capture that energy of a live show, but in a much more intimate setting.
We just released our first set. Which is really the first half of a show with just Ian and I. During the second half, we had Danny Mayer on guitar, who plays with Eric Krasno Band. He's also in Star Kitchen with Marc Brownstein. We also had Jon Coleman, who is one of our favorite bassists. His band is called Muscle Tough. He does a lot with the Philly music scene, so we invited those guys to play the second half of the show with us. In the next few weeks, we will put out the second recording. For now, we've just released the first half, which focuses specifically on Ian and I as a duo.
Very cool. You've obviously been involved with several major projects at this point in your career. What has this project allowed you to do differently as a musician? What about this duo excites you on a creative level?
Scotty: This kind of combines everything that I have learned over the past decade of touring full time. It takes all of those nuggets that I have learned over the years and combines them into a small, compact project. When you have several other musicians involved, whether it's a trio or even five people, as we have with Ghost Light, it can become harder and harder with all of those people connecting. It takes a lot of practice, but you can have that connection with however many people in a band. When you can have that connection between just two people, that stream of consciousness can happen so much faster. Especially with Ian, who at this point I've been playing music with longer than anyone else I've played with in the 20-25 years I've been playing my instrument.
There is a connection there that is very different than anything I've ever done. It kind of takes everything we've learned from live improvisation and electronic dance music, and it incorporates more of the modern jazz approach that is happening now with people like Mark Guiliana and his band Beat Music, which has been a big influence on us. He also has a project with Brad Mehldau which is called Mehliana. Taking more of that jazz approach and the fusion on danceable jazz and electronic music. Maybe some of the Squarepusher influence as well in there. Trying to cater to not only what we're used to in the jam band scene, but also trying to stretch out into new avenues that we've never played in before.
Listen to set one from McGuire Zwang Duo at Boom Room Studios here:
That's awesome. So you guys just released the first set of the live session. Have you guys released any studio material at this point?
Scotty: We've wrapped up production on our first EP. It's not quite a full album. It should be out later in the year. We're still wrapping up a few things there. We were going to try and release it pretty soon, but then all of this other stuff happened. It had to take a back seat, so we could figure out what life during a pandemic was going to look like.
Well, I know it's hard to figure out exactly what the future is going to look like. Hopefully, you'll be able to get back to touring before too long. You obviously have Ghost Light continuing to take off. I'm sure that will continue to trend in a positive direction. How do you foresee the balance working out, and just how active do feel that the duo can be on your calendar?
Scotty: Over the last year or so, I've been having a much bigger focus on my life and work balance. When I was with Dopapod, we were playing anywhere from 120-150 shows a year. It was a lot of touring, and there wasn't much balance with my life. It was easy to feel a little burnt out. With Ghost Light, that has obviously been my main focus, but I did want to have something else to be able to focus on as well. Something to divide my time musically when Ghost Light is not on the road. We're only doing about 70 shows a year, and there is definitely some extra time in there to have other focuses creatively. I'm still balancing things out and making sure I put time aside for myself, life with my family, and obviously my fiancee. It's looking like I'll be doing Ghost Light about 1/3 of the year, and close to but not as much with McGuire Zwang Duo.
Our aim is about 50 shows a year, maybe a little more depending on where it goes. We're going to try to do baby steps from there. Before any of this happened, Ian teaches a lot of students. He also has a few other projects. He is a full-time member of Lets Danza, which features the other members of Brothers Past, which is Tom Hamilton's former band. When he's not busy doing that, or his other project CIA (which features Clay Parnell and Allen Aucoin from The Disco Biscuits), he is teaching a lot. This is kind of a way for us to focus musically on something else. Something we can be creative with and have a little more control, with it just being the two of us. Once things open back up, we're hoping to continue with that goal of at least 50 shows a year and see what happens from there.
Love hearing that. Is there anything else pertaining to the Duo that you'd like to mention?
Scotty: Well, we will definitely have set two, featuring Danny Mayer and Jon Coleman, coming out May 22nd. A little later in the year, you should definitely be keeping an eye out for our first studio release.
Can't wait to hear all of this material. Please keep us posted and let us know whatever we can do to help spread the good word. Always a pleasure chatting with you man.
Scotty: Likewise. Thanks so much Jordan.
The Orange Constant Peels Into Staple Sound With New Album May 12, 2020 00:07
Georgia-based rock outfit The Orange Constant has self-released its third studio album. Featuring mostly newer material, Peel, was recorded over the past year and a half with Grammy-nominated producer John Keane with whom the band has previously worked with.
The LP digs into a familiar blend of vintage and modern rock and covers the group’s sonic spectrum; heartfelt anthems with catchy choruses ride alongside instrumental skill with psychedelic undertones.
Band guitarist and co-founder Nickalous Benson says the album benefited from a lengthier recording process and familiarity with Keane as the hometown producer.
“We’ve never before had so much time to pick at the layers,” Benson said. “You could sit back and reevaluate the music you recorded and decide if you really like it.”
The release marks the first full-length studio effort that includes all five current members of the band.
Formed in Statesboro, Ga. in 2012 and transplanted to Athens, The Orange Constant steadily tours the greater southeast and has performed as far north as New York and west as Colorado. The new album is available for purchase or streaming on all major platforms and the band says it hopes to press vinyl this year.
Those who are interested can head over to the band’s Facebook page for a live listening party at 8:00 PM EST tonight (May 12th). They will be listening to the album in its entirety, as well as hosting a Q&A session with their fans.
Stream The Orange Constant's new album Peel via Spotify here:
Doom Flamingo's Thomas Kenney Reveals New Project OUKUO April 27, 2020 09:47
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photo by Bain Stewart Media
For the past two years, we've had the great pleasure of watching Charleston's Doom Flamingo take off like wildfire in the festival scene. The dynamic six-piece's unique blend of "synthwave" provides something truly unique and fresh, which is a rare testament these days. Led by Umphrey's McGee bassist Ryan Stasik, the band's powerful sound is a product of an incredibly diverse pool of talent.
Last week, we had a chance to sit down with guitarist Thomas Kenney to learn more about his latest solo project: OUKUO. In this conversation, we learned all about Thomas's eclectic musical background, as well as what can be expected as OUKUO takes shape and grains traction. Check out the full conversation below, and make sure to stream the new single "The Blue City" while you're here.
Let's kick this off with some general background info. How did your musical journey begin?
Thomas: I started playing guitar about 16 years ago. I was in a heavy metal band in high school. As I got to college, my interests were leaning more towards blues, soul, and jazz music. I was studying a lot of jazz, as well as Brazilian and African music. I was always fascinated with anything that was "exotic sounding," whether it was Indian, African, even Caribbean music. I started college as a Jazz major, and I wasn't the most disciplined student at the time. My studies were mainly based on western classical theory. I would love to play devil's advocate with my teachers about western vs. eastern classical theory. One of my professors got frustrated and told me I should go back to the bar.
I switched my degree to English Rhetorical Studies, and I just always kept up with music. I always played in bands. Once you can read and write music, you don't need a degree to pursue it. It's an oral language. So, I moved back to Charleston after college, and I just started playing gigs. I kind of got tapped into this super rich Charleston scene here. Charleston is one of the birth places of jazz, gospel, and r&b. I'm super fortunate to play with some of the best jazz and r&b players on the planet. There's a church every 10 feet in Charleston. Every church has a band, and they're all killin'.
So yeah, I started playing with people like Mike Quinn and Ross Bogan (Doom Flamingo) about seven years ago. They were playing in a band called Wadata at the time. They were helping get the local funk scene started. After that, I started playing whatever full time gigs I could get. I kind of fell into teaching. I've always made digital music, whether it be house, hip hop, or ambient . I'd say I've been a full-time musician for about eight years now. Weddings, teaching, touring, gigging, whatever works.
Very cool. One of the bands you play with is Terraphonics. I've always heard great things from friends in Charleston. Tell me more about that project.
Thomas: Absolutely. Terraphonics is a highly collaborative concept. It's a blend of hip-hop, r&b, and jazz. The band an instrumental quartet, but we tend to work with various MCs and vocalists. We've played a lot of cover shows and rap cyphers. It's been a very fun experience to be a part of.
Well I know that we want to focus on the latest project, OUKUO. So let's do that. Did I get the pronunciation right?
Thomas: Pretty close, but it's pronounced "oo-koo-owe." This project has been brewing in the back of my mind for years and years now. It's really a combination of a ton of different influences of mine. A lot of my friends don't know this, but I'm really into euro-house music and EDM. Most people know me as a guitar player that plays blues, soul, Motown, and jazz. But I've always loved electronic music of all kinds. I love reggae and dub, and all of that late-night, grimy stuff. This project is kind of my way of expressing that side of my brain. Ideally, while it's going to begin as a DJ set, my idea is that once Doom Flamingo gets back on the road, I'll be able to hire on some of the guys to play with me. You know, similar to how Thievery Corporation does it.
Check out OUKUO's debut single "The Blue City" here:
I'm glad to hear you say that. I've always enjoyed seeing electronic artists surround themselves with a live band. It naturally makes things that much more interesting.
Thomas: Yeah, and I'm really the sum of my environment. I'm really influenced by the sound of my friends. Especially my bud Ross (Bogan) who plays keys and synth in Doom Flamingo. He is just the sonic tapestry master when it comes to using effects. He has the absolute best tone, so I'm always drawing inspiration from him. I'm playing most of the parts on the OUKUO record: keys, bass, and guitar. I have my friend Shelton Dessasure on most of the tunes, who is one of my favorite local drummers. The rest I'm either sampling his takes or building drums from scratch in Ableton. I'm trying to compose it like most EDM/Hip Hop projects, but it will inevitably translate really well as a live performance.
You mentioned this has been in the back of your mind for years now. Do you feel that the experience of these last two years with Doom Flamingo has inspired you to finally bring OUKUO to life?
Thomas: Yeah, I would say it's been an influence in a really interesting way. Terraphonics tends to have this really intimate sound that draws really well in small theaters, smoky jazz bars, and places like that. Doom Flamingo has this massive sound, and it's led me to playing on some amazing stages. That's allowed me to play through some huge sound systems. I'm a believer that acoustic force; just the shear massiveness of a sound, it's almost like it's own scale or chord. It's going to affect you emotionally.
I'm definitely composing this music with a large stage vision. This music is not for the 30-person, 55-and-up jazz crowd. It's way more bass heavy. It's way more sampling and electronic, and you'll see that Doom Flamingo uses a lot of electronics and triggering on stage. So. yeah, I'm always responding to my environment as a writer and I'm definitely composing this seeing it in the same acoustic environment as Doom Flamingo as well.
Specifically for this release, as you begin introducing the world to OUKUO, what's the main message you'd like for people to hear?
Thomas: I would say that while it is an eclectic range of sounds, I would classify it as dance music. I'm trying not to filter out too many ideas, but my one criteria is you have to be able to dance to 90% of the tracks. There's also a mellow midnight smoke session track or two on the record, for some contrast.
That's a fantastic rule.
Thomas: (laughs) Yeah, of course. I love dance music because it allows me to directly share with audience. It's the easiest way to take care of each other. If I can make you dance, you're going to reciprocate the energy to me. That just make's for a really great night. I would say one thing that really differentiates this from my other projects is this sound I've been working on for years by myself. It's the sample-heavy side of things. I'm a huge hip-hop fan, and I love producers like Mad Lib And Timbaland, and all of the producers in that vein. They are masters of taking sounds from around the world and contextualizing them in an EDM context. My travels to places like India, Morocco, Spain, Cuba... they have all made a massive impact on the way I produce and play guitar, and that's going to show up. All of those experiences are going to melt into one world that I would describe as OUKUO.
I dig it man and really look forward to listening more. Remind me when we can expect to see the full album.
Thomas: This is the first single, and it's part of a larger record called Gorilla. It's going to be an eight or nine track record. I'll be releasing the second single in about two months and releasing the album later in the summer.
Very cool. Well it's been a pleasure chatting Thomas. Can't wait for all of us to get back out on the road. The world needs live music right now. Thanks for everything you do.
Thomas: My pleasure. Thank you, man!
Photo via Tara Gracer Photography
Check out OUKUO's debut single "The Blue City" here:
The Talismen Release New EP 'Extra Vehicular Activity' March 30, 2020 13:47
Cycles Releases New Studio EP 'Summer Dress' March 27, 2020 14:53
The first studio work in three years from Cycles, Denver’s psychedelic-rock-fusion pioneers, is out now. Recorded at Scanhope Sound in Denver, CO and produced by Josh Fairman of SunSquabi is out now on all streaming platforms via Color Red.
“Summer Dress was the most natural thing ever for us. We couldn’t wait to lay these songs down and Josh Fairman is the man! He made it so easy for us to record this stuff live and we made it easy for him by doing barely any overdubs or retakes. The EP takes you on a journey that reminds you to lay off your phone, pull out that summer dress, head up to the hills and throw your time into the sky because the time spent worrying about what will happen will keep you from recognizing how glorious that sunrise can actually be.” –Patrick Harvey (Guitar / Vocals)
After an incredibly busy year that found the band headlining shows from coast to coast as well as supporting acts like Umphrey’s McGee, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, SunSquabi and more, Cycles are adapting to a new way of life off the road in the developing pandemic of Coronavirus. With their entire Spring Tour postponed due to safety concerns, the band is finding new ways to bring their music to their fans while diligently planning a show-heavy Fall Tour. Recently featured on the 11E1even Group’s “Live From Out There” online digital subscription music festival the guys are busy planning more in-home experiences right now. Having just joined Nugs.net, the popular jamband-oriented streaming service, the band will now be able to bring their live-recorded shows to an eager crowd ready to listen.
In the face of all the uncertainty facing the live music industry and bands that depend on it, the Summer touring schedule for all bands has slimmed down to just a handful of festivals that have yet to reschedule. Stay tuned on the Cycles social media channels for updates and new content.
Stream Cycles new EP 'Summer Dress' via Spotify here:
Watch Cycles perform "Music's For Free" via Live From Out There:
Big Friendly Productions Announces Live Stream Series in Birmingham March 17, 2020 12:00
Matt Slocum & Mike Robinson Discuss Life with Railroad Earth March 3, 2020 08:53
Winston Ramble Returns to Avondale Brewery on Saturday Night February 26, 2020 15:10
An Evening with Ghost Light: Presented by Hog Days of Summer February 21, 2020 15:45
We could not be more pleased to partner with Druids Charity Club for an amazing night of live music at Montgomery's Capri Theatre on Wednesday, March 25th. One of the hottest up and coming acts in the country, Ghost Light, will make their first ever stop in the capitol city. Led by guitarist Tom Hamilton (of Joe Russo's Almost Dead), the band also featured famed pianist Holly Bowling, drummer Scotty Zwang (formerly of Dopapod), guitarist Raina Mullen (formerly of Tom Hamilton's American Babies), and bassist Dan Africano. They will be fresh off a major national tour with Greensky Bluegrass, which saw the band play in many of America's most prestigious venues.
Earlier this week, Ghost Light released HD, multi-cam footage from their recent performance at Thunderbird Music Hall in Pittsburgh, PA. Check out the complete footage below and make sure to RSVP to the official Facebook event for their upcoming show in Montgomery. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking here.
We recently caught up with two of the founding members of Druids Charity Club, Inge Hill and John Sullivan, who gave us a little more insight on their overall vision for the non-profit efforts and Hog Days of Summer:
"We have diverse musical tastes, but it is our opinion that nothing pairs with BBQ quite like blues and authentic country music, and all of their respective blends and offshoots. With that basic idea in mind, we strive to bring in a first class, family-friendly bill which loosely spans ‘Americana’ and roots influences such as blues, country, folk, bluegrass, and rock & roll.
So much of the popular music we hear on the radio today can be traced back to southern backroads and porches; we feel fortunate to be playing our small part in keeping these musical traditions alive in our community. Community has always been an integral component in both BBQ and this style of music, and therefore, our event. Our focus on the family is why we think the train shed is the best venue around for a multi-generational celebration such as Hog Days. It warms our heart to see kids dancing up front to the same music that is moving their parents. A statue of Hank Williams stands guard outside our venue, so that is a high standard and a long shadow which we try to respect."
- Inge Hill: Druids Charity Club
"We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization made up exclusively of volunteers. We give all of the profits from this event to Hogs for the Cause, a charitable organization which provides financial grants to children with cancer. Often overlooked in the spectrum of cancer treatment is the financial strain placed on a family when their child is diagnosed. Parents are forced to miss work for various reasons, whether it be to sit with their child during treatments or care for them when they are struggling with the side effects of chemotherapy. Many parents lose significant wages or even their jobs in this process. They often get behind on their mortgage, struggle to pay for utilities, or simply cannot afford to drive to Birmingham for their treatments. Our efforts lessen this burden."
- John Sullivan: Druids Charity Club
Drifter Merch Announces Inaugural Bert Griggs Memorial Jam February 14, 2020 10:36
Press Release via Drifter Merch
Drifter Fest: The Inaugural Bert Griggs Memorial Jam will be held on March 6th-8th in Charleston, SC. The music-filled weekend will celebrate the life of Drifter Merch founder Bert Griggs who died unexpectedly in December. Bert's designs made an impact on the jam band music scene offering innovative designs that reached far and wide. The festivities kick off on Friday night with a pre-jam from 8-11pm at Home Team BBQ’s downtown location featuring several sets of funk favorites from Shonuff band. Doors for the Drifter Fest: The Inaugural Bert Griggs Memorial Jam open at 8pm at the Charleston Pour House.
Inside the venue from 8:30pm-1am, patrons will enjoy a collaboration of Bert’s favorite tunes from many of his friends including Reid Stone and bands Gaslight Street, The Travelin’ Kine, Shonuff, Solid Country Gold and more. The weekend concludes on Sunday from 2pm-5pm at Reckoning in the Park featuring The Reckoning, an awesome Grateful Dead cover band, in the meadow at James Island County Park. Guests will enjoy a weekend of fun events combined with great company, stories and live music.
Born and raised in Hartsville, Bert Griggs was surrounded by a huge family and lifelong friends as he grew up in the country riding tractors, four-wheelers and being mischievous. Bert later graduated from the College of Charleston with a B.S. in Business Administration. He remained in Charleston after college working in all aspects of the hospitality industry while working for Charlestowne Hotels. It wasn’t long before the mountains called his name and he headed to Jackson Hole to pursue his love of snowboarding. While there, Bert was the sales and marketing director of a hotel group that gave him the opportunity to travel to world-class ski resorts all over the country as an ambassador for Jackson Hole. He met his wife Lorrie while she was vacationing there from Charleston and discovered they both had a love of traveling to see live music and a plethora of mutual friends.
Following a whirlwind romance, they married on April Fools’ Day atop the mountain at Jackson Hole Ski Resort. Together they created Drifter Merch, an apparel company dedicated to their love of music. Soon after, they returned to Charleston where Bert’s passion for graphic design grew as did their business. Their company vended at many shows, festivals, events and handled custom orders for numerous businesses (Google, Vida-Flo, Moe's Original BBQ), bands (Dickey Betts Band, Dead 27s, Travelin' Kine), schools and events. The light of their lives, Harper Grace, was born about a year later. Bert was an amazing father, husband, son, brother, and friend. Bert had an innate ability to make everyone he met feel like they were the most important person in the room. He never met a stranger. In fact, he was everyone’s best friend. He had the sweetest soul and a tender heart that loved hard and loved deeply. Bert had a unique sense of humor with an infectious laugh and smile that could light up the darkest room. He is intensely missed.
For interviews, photos or additional information, please contact Lorrie Dixson Griggs of Eskimo Advertising at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Artwork by Corey Grantham of Carolina Printing
Artwork by Tripp Shealy: Tripp’s Prints
CBDB & Kendall Street Company Embark on National Tour February 12, 2020 15:29
•2/20: Houston, TX: Last Concert Cafe
•2/21: Austin, TX: Mohawk
•2/22: Dallas, TX: Three Links
•2/27: Ft. Collins, CO: Avogadros Number
•2/28: Steamboat Springs, CO: Schmiggitys
•2/29: Denver, CO: Cervantes Masterpiece
•3/3: Milwaukee, WI: Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
•3/4 Madison, WI: High Noon Saloon
•3/5 Appleton, WI: The Bent Keg
•3/6 Chicago, IL: Beat Kitchen
•3/7 Grand Rapids, MI: Founders Brewing Company
•3/11 Columbus, OH: The Summit
•3/12 Cleveland, OH: Beachland Tavern
•3/13 Pittsburgh, PA: The Smiling Moose
•3/14 Richmond, VA: River City Roll
•3/18 Baltimore, MD: The 8x10
•3/19 Philadelphia, PA: Boot & Saddle
•3/20 Boston, MA: Middle East
•3/21 New York, NY: Gramercy Theatre
About The Band: CBDB
CBDB is a progressive rock, jam-band from Alabama and their music is spreading from the southeast across the nation like wildfire. Defining a newfound, southern blend of joyful and progressive rock n roll, they channel a sonic mix of soulful vocals and virtuosic musicianship with smart, tasteful songwriting. On stage, each member of CBDB fluidly plays between complex composition and loose exploratory improvisation creating an incredible and unique live experience.
Watch CBDB's full performance from Variety Playhouse [02.01.20] here:
About The Band: Kendall Street Company
Back Forty Birmingham Confirms Lineup for Inaugural Music Festival February 4, 2020 11:27
Appearing national touring acts including North Mississippi Allstars, Keller Williams, Spafford, The Soul Rebels, The Motet, Kitchen Dwellers, Ryley Walker and Little Raine Band.
Back Forty Beer Company Birmingham and Big Spring Entertainment are proud to announce the full lineup for the first year “Back Forty Social”, to be held at Back Forty in Birmingham, Alabama. This one-day, all ages music festival will feature eight acts on one main stage and includes multiple genres spanning Bluegrass, Folk, Funk, Americana, Jam Band, and Southern Rock. Tickets start at $40 for the all-day event, and children 12 and under receive free general admission when accompanied by a paying adult.
Officially joining the lineup for the all day event are Jam Band staples Spafford. Spafford is known for their astonishing improvisational ability, which they’ll use to play live off the cuff extended jams. Each song is a blank canvas, and Spafford paints a picture in real time each night with a musical palette known only to each other. It’s a private language comprised of their talent as musicians, and of their formidable catalog of influences - ranging from Steely Dan, electronic acts like The Crystal Method, to 90’s alt rock radio hits. Every show is a sonic pilgrimage – the journey of a team of musicians so in tune with each other that a single note communicates intent and purpose.
Even though the band thrives off the electric pulse of live shows, the same energy also translates into their studio efforts. Their 2018 release “For Amusement Only” hits to the heart of Spafford – tight, inventive, and dexterous musicianship coupled with clever retro-pop inspired songwriting. Songs like “Leave The Light On” highlight their influences – from the melodic styles of Alanis Morissette to the rhythmic bounce of Bob Marley. Other tracks like “Ain’t That Wrong” and “Slip and Squander” are rich with other signature Spafford signs: vibrant vocal harmonies, complex and catchy arrangements, and sparkling, powerful performances.
Artists appearing at The 2020 Back Forty Social include, in order of appearance: Little Raine Band, Ryley Walker, Kitchen Dwellers, The Motet, The Soul Rebels, Spafford, Keller Williams, and North Mississippi Allstars.
Admission: Tickets for the Back Forty Social are on sale now at Ticketmaster.com and BackFortySocial.com, with prices ranging from $40 General Admission to $85 VIP. Information about site layout, lineup schedule, and more will be released on the event’s website and social media channels over the next few weeks.
About Back Forty Beer Company Birmingham: In 2018, Back Forty Beer Company joined Birmingham's thriving craft beer scene with the opening of its new 16-tap microbrewery at Sloss Docks. Freshly brewed beers include Naked Pig, Truck Stop Honey and other core recipes, plus a steady rotation of new experimental beers available only in the local market: Beers like "Crow Point" - their juicy New England IPA, "Hike Out Hefe" - their popular, traditional German Hefeweizen and “Hop Tosh” a perfectly balanced Northwest Coast IPA. Back Forty has a full restaurant with amazing dishes like the Back 40 Cheeseburger, Pizzas and the napinducing Poutine. Customers are invited to grab a beer and a burger and enjoy the dramatic views of Sloss Furnaces at Back Forty Beer Company. Learn more at backfortybeer.com/Birmingham.
About Big Spring Entertainment: is a full-service concert and entertainment promotion company based in Huntsville, AL with offices in Nashville, TN and Birmingham, AL. BSE buys, promotes, and produces events across the South, Southeast, and Midwest specializing in music halls, clubs, theaters, performing art centers, arenas, amphitheaters, and festivals. Big Spring Entertainment is also the owner-operator of The Druid City Music Hall in Tuscaloosa, AL.
Here's a look at what you can expect from this year's lineup!
North Mississippi Allstars
The Soul Rebels
Little Raine Band
Spafford & CBDB Deliver Jam-Filled Tuesday in Birmingham January 29, 2020 17:07
Turkuaz Brings Power Funk to Birmingham January 16, 2020 14:18
Letting it Slide: A Conversation with Marco Benevento January 15, 2020 02:25
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photos by Jean Frank Photography
Calling all Southeast music enthusiasts. We would like to ask you to stop what you're doing and clear your schedule. It's officially one of our favorite times of the year, when keyboard wizard Marco Benevento brings his wildly entertaining three-piece solo project through the heart of the South. The madness kicks off on Thursday night (1/16) in Austin, TX and continues with stops in Houston (1/17), New Orleans (1/18), Birmingham (1/19), Knoxville (1/20), Asheville (1/21), Carboro, NC (1/22), Charlotte (1/23), Charleston (1/24), and Atlanta (1/25).
The band is fresh of its seventh studio release, Let it Slide, and they have never been more dialed in. After taking a totally different approach in the studio, Marco and company have a deeper catalog than ever before. Bassist Karina Rykman and drummer Dave "DB" Butler round out this prolific trio and bring a level of energy that is matched by none. Over the weekend, we had a chance to catch up with Benevento to learn more about Let it Slide and hear all about the band's plans for 2020. See below for the full conversation and make sure to catch these guys (and gals) in a city near you!
I appreciate you taking the time to chat for a few minutes today, Marco. I know that everyone in Birmingham is excited to have you back in town at Saturn on Sunday night.
Widespread Panic Bestows Ultimate Trust in New Orleans November 8, 2019 14:44
Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photos by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
Now that I’ve had several days to regroup, it seems fitting to sit down and revisit last weekend’s Halloween festivities with Widespread Panic. After 18 years of seeing this band, I finally had the opportunity to make this special tradition a priority. Halloween is always amongst the biggest annual events for any major touring act, and Widespread Panic never fails to deliver to its fervent fan base.
Speculation was rampant, as expected, leading into Thursday night’s show. Upon entering UNO Arena, fans were introduced to an elaborate stage setup, which included Christmas decorations, a taxi cab, a wrestling wring, and what appeared to be the back drop of a comedy club. We began wondering if these props could somehow be tied to Andy Kaufman, and this would prove to be the case later in the night. The band took the stage, and immediately invited NOLA’s own George Porter Jr. to join them on stage. Bassist Dave Schools let George take the lead on bass, while he focused his efforts on the rubber chicken, and the band appropriately kicked into The Meters’ “Chicken Strut.” They proceeded to get the entire room singing along for “Hey Pocky Way,” another Meters’ classic.
The first set continued with The Talking Heads’ “Papa Legba,” and originals such as “One Arm Steve,” “Love Tractor,” “Hatfield,” “All Time Low,” and “Pilgrims” would follow. It had been two and a half years since the last cover of James Taylor’s “Knockin’ Round the Zoo” (JazzFest 2017), which made this set closer that much more raucous. The second set began with the theme to Mighty Mouse playing over the PA, before the band dropped into Bloodkin’s “Henry Parsons Died.” This was followed by a powerful “Surprise Valley” > “Arleen” > “Surprise Valley.” We stomped around the “Old Neighborhood” just before a rockin’ take on “Holden Oversoul.” The next bust out came in the form of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Spoonful” (LTP 10/08/14 Montgomery, AL), and “Tallboy” had the whole place going wild.
The Halloween antics really began taking shape from here. John Bell welcomed REM’s Mike Mills to the stage, and the debut of Lou Reef’s “Perfect Day” was a beautiful surprise. At some point, a man posted up at a small table on stage left, where he proceeded to eat a meal and drink wine. Two more debuts then surfaced in the form of David Bowie’s “Starman” and REM’s “Man on the Moon” both with the help of Mills on guitar/bass and Paul Agostino on keys. “Porch Song” was an absolutely perfect way to close out this set.
The encore was without a doubt one of the more interesting live music experiences of my life. The band returned to the stage with Mills and Agostino, while drummer Duane Trucks was on bass and Dave Schools front and center. I had absolutely no idea what was going on at the time, but Schools proceeded to inform us all that “I Trusted You” for the better part of five minutes (see video below). Two more highly obscure Andy Kaufman nods followed with “This Friendly World” and “Volare,” before tour manager Steve Lopez took the stage to ask the audience to please stop smoking in the building. This is when things got really bizarre.
John Bell invited the infamous Tony Clifton to the stage. I will go ahead and admit that I didn’t realize this was keyboardist JoJo Hermann until the following day. He began singing about “Tacos” being cheap, before a “heckler” started screaming obscenities at him. Clifton appeared to be fed up with said heckler, told her to suck one, and she jumped on stage to throw multiple drinks at the band. At this point, the band exited the stage, security escorted the woman off stage, the lights came on, and we all wondered, “what the fuck just happened?” The band would immediately offer an emphatic apology to the fans via social media, which proved to be all part of an extensive Andy Kaufman inspired Halloween gag. Like I said, it was an interesting night, but it was also pure genius, in my humble opinion.
Watch Widespread Panic perform "I Trusted You" here:
The Panic faithful had plenty to discuss leading into Friday night’s show. Was this the last of the shenanigans, or would this be a common theme throughout the weekend? We wouldn’t see any gags on night two, but Jesus Christ, did we get a hot show. The first set was one big “Bowlegged” > “Chilly Sandwich,” with tunes such as “”Little Lilly,” “Visiting Day,” “Walkin’ (For Your Love),” and “You Got Yours” thrown in the middle. JB had a slight technical malfunction during “Christmas Katie,” which left the frontman singing without his guitar for the first half of the song. The highlight of the set had to be the first “Entering a Black Hole Backwards” since 2014 dropping back into “Chilly Water,” which would then segue back into “Bowlegged.” That is Widespread Panic at its finest.
Everyone’s got their own opinion, but for me, the perfect Panic set begins with “Disco" > "Diner.” This smokin' set continued with “Blackout Blues,” “The Last Straw, and “Mercy,” before we got our first “Drums” of the weekend. They came back out guns blazing with “Chainsaw City” and “Four Cornered Room,” then “Jack” led straight into a “Red Hot Mama” from Louisiana that nearly brought the house down. The band revisited the 2017 Halloween show with The Dillards’ “There is a Time,” which was originally performed on the Andy Griffith Show, and Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me” would put the finishing touches on a damn near flawless show.
I think we were all convinced that it was Sunday at this point, but fortunately, this run began on a Thursday night. What was left in the tank for Saturday? We were in for a treat…that’s for sure. We started with a flashback to Pulp Fiction when guitarist Jimmy Herring ripped into “Rumble,” an instrumental by Link Wray & His Ray Men. The set continued with Tom Waits’ “Goin’ Out West” and “Greta,” and “Climb to Safety” would follow. Being that this song has become somewhat of a Panic anthem (even though it’s Jerry Joseph’s song), it’s reputation is somewhat controversial. I, for one, will never get tired of hearing it. On this night, I experienced one of the more euphoric body highs of my life during the first chorus. Every hair of my body was standing on edge, and it felt really fucking good.
“Junior” and “Makes Sense to Me” were next on the list, just before one of the weekend’s most exciting moments. Dumpstaphunk’s Ivan Neville joined the band for an amazing sequence of “Sleepy Monkey” > “I Walk on Guilded Splinters” (Dr. John) > “Cream Puff War" (Grateful Dead). Does it get any hotter than that? The second set was equally as impressive. We were off to the races with “Radio Child” and “Thought Sausage.” Another bust out surfaced with John Lennon & Yoko Ono’s “The Ballad of John & Yoko.” “Honkey Red” set a super heavy, serious tone, before an absolutely perfect “Driving Song” was played. “Breathing Slow” led into another rager, “Impossible,” and Vampire Blues came next. “Pigeons” is always a treat, especially when “Papa’s Home” is looming in the distance. Trucks and percussionist Sonny Ortiz led us through another impressive “Drums,” which landed back into “Papa’s” just in time for a set closing “Action Man.”
While I’ve seen several nods to the late Col. Bruce Hampton, it had been about eight years (02/14/11) since I had seen Panic play “Basically Frightened.” This would begin the encore and lead perfectly into “Blue Indian.” It then appeared that “Postcard” would close out the weekend. Per usual, the entire building was ready to shout, “This town is nuts. My kind of place. I don’t ever wanna leave.” Not so fast, y’all. We were treated to a reprise of “I Trusted You,” and I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed so hard. Are you kidding me?
There were high expectations for my first Halloween with Panic, and this band never lets me down. What almost seemed like a page out of the Phish playbook made this weekend as unique as any I’ve experienced. These musical journeys always seem to leave us feeling recharged and grateful for this fortunate life we live. There is nothing I’d rather do than embark on a weekend of mayhem with some of the best friends you could ever ask for, along with one of the greatest bands to ever take the stage.
All Things Equal 5 of 7: An Interview with Jimmy Herring & Kevin Scott September 18, 2019 12:11
Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
Interviews and artist spotlights have always been the "bread and butter" of Live & Listen. Over the years, I've had the opportunity to talk with so many amazing artists, in an effort to learn more about their current endeavors and share these stories with as many people as possible. Earlier this week, I was asked if I had interest in chatting with famed guitarist Jimmy Herring, who just kicked off a major tour with his latest project, The 5 of 7. That was obviously an easy decision.
Many know Jimmy's work as lead guitarist for Widespread Panic, Aquarium Rescue Unit, and Jazz is Dead. This conversation focuses on The 5 of 7, which features the likes of Kevin Scott (bass), Matt Slocum (keys), Rick Lollar (guitar/vocals), and Darren Stanley (drums). The group shares one common thread: they're all students of the late Col. Bruce Hampton. As you'll read below, this commonality continues to shape and influence their approach to music and life in general.
The 5 of 7 continue their tour tonight in Iowa City and will continue trekking across the United States through early October. After a month long break, which allows Jimmy to reunite with his Widespread Panic band mates for weekends in Milwaukee & New Orleans, the 5 of 7 will continue through the Southeast, before closing things out with a multi-night run in Tokyo, Japan. See below for our full conversation with Jimmy and Kevin Scott!
Let’s get right to it. Your latest project, The 5 of 7, kicked off the tour in Colorado over the weekend. What did you take away from this band’s first official performances?
Jimmy: Yeah man. The whole idea was, in my mind...I wanted to work with some younger musicians. I'd already been working with Kevin (Scott) from the last band. Matt Slocum too, of course. They had another band, King Baby, that just blew me away. I loved Rick (Lollar) and really wanted to work with a singer. I couldn't imagine anyone else. As soon as I heard him, I thought, "This guy is great. Let's work with him." Darren Stanley (drums) had been working with Bruce (Hampton), and I'd heard him a few times. I was just knocked out by him. Kevin told me that they had a real chemistry together. So, that seemed like a no brainer. We just got together, with no gigs on the books, just to see how it felt. Nobody wanted any money. No one needed a hotel room or a flight. We just got together for fun, and we knew the first day, you know? I was like, "This is gonna be blast."
What did I take away from the first gig? Nothing's ever perfect. We know that. Every gig has gotten better so far though. The first night was Denver, then Fort Collins was better, and then Boulder was even better. So...I'm really looking forward to Iowa City tomorrow night. We're having a lot of fun out here.
Now you've had two days to hopefully rest and regroup. What does an off day look like for you on this tour?
Jimmy: You'd be laughing. Sleep 'til 2:00 PM. (laughs) The other guys don't do this. I'm older now. Sleep 'til 2:00 PM. Wake up. Stumble into the lobby. Drink coffee. Laugh at everybody. Go back to the room and make a phone call. Come back. Laugh again. Get another cup of coffee. Tell some Bruce stories. Laugh some more. Then, maybe talk about...I don't know man. That's all we've done so far. (laughs).
Has there been a particularly good Bruce story that you guys have relived this week?
Jimmy: There's probably been several. The one just we told five minutes before we called you was how he said he didn't want us to be skinny. He wanted us to get fat. He said we sounded better when we were fat.
I suppose there may be some truth to that.
Kevin: B.B. King. Albert King.
Jimmy: That's right. The fatter the better.
Kevin: Bernard Purdie. Fat.
Jimmy: The fatter you get, the better tone. (laughs)
Incredible. I'm sure it's been amazing to see this band come to life. We've covered some of this already, but what else can you tell me about how this lineup fell into place?
Jimmy: One thing I didn't say is that Kevin is the conduit between the worlds. He has had his finger on the pulse of what's happening in the Atlanta music scene for years. He's who I went to and said, "Let's try something different. I want to work with a singer. Who else is in Atlanta?" Man, I've lived in Atlanta since 1986. I got in Bruce's band three years later. And since then, I haven't been to Atlanta. (laughs)
You know what I mean? We're touring all the time. I really didn't know what was happening in Atlanta. These younger people started coming into my life, like Kevin and Duane (Trucks), and they'd tell me, "You've gotta hear this guy." I started meeting guys like Kebbi (Williams) who plays in Derek Trucks' band (Tedeschi Trucks Band). All the things he has done on the side. Kevin had that jam going on in Atlanta. I may not have been there for every one. I went to a few. I really enjoyed it a lot. I like to play with people with enthusiasm. He knows them all, and he's got that enthusiasm. He's kind of the architect of the band.
That's a great architect to have. You've had the opportunity to be a part of countless projects. How does the dynamic of this particular group continue to push you as both a guitarist and a person?
Jimmy: We have a great variety of music. It never gets boring, because it delves into all of the music we play and the spontaneity that might happen. The thing I love about playing with these guys, well, there's a lot. One of them is that they won't take you to that place at an inappropriate time. You know? Inappropriate is subjective. We could be playing a ballad, and there might be a few things that happen in the music that take us toward a Zambi direction. I don't have to worry that it won’t come back. These guys are young, but they're mature. They follow and listen to each other.
If you hear a guy play something a little left of center, the other guys will react, but if the person with the ball doesn't continue in that direction, then it's just a little funny moment, and then it goes back. There's always the threat that it might completely ascend into a spontaneous moment that might last longer than a moment. You know what I mean? I've played with a lot of other people when it might go to that place and never come back. And that's cool too, but this is not that.
We're trying to play songs without putting ourselves in prison of being stuck by the song. A song shouldn't be pre-thought out, and it shouldn't just do one thing in one certain spot. I think we're walking that line pretty well, don't you Kevin?
Kevin: Oh yeah. For sure.
Jimmy: That's the hope. That keeps me going, man. The youth and exuberance of these guys… Everybody wants to be here, and everybody gets to play. Nobody feels like they're just the background band and I'm gonna take every solo. We don't want to do that. We want everyone to get to get a chance play and interact with one another. Part of that is being able to write music that makes that possible. Hopefully, we'll write more music together. We've got some, but we want more.
We're playing some of my tunes from the past. Some of King Baby's tunes. We're doing a few covers. It's still interesting, and there's everything from ballads to funk and blues. Leanings towards jazz, but I wouldn't call it jazz, per say. We have R&B music in there. All of the things we love are a part of what we're doing. We try to pace the set where it's not too many of the same things in a row. We have a lot of tunes with extended improvisation for each band member. We're trying not to put those all in a row. That way it's not the same thing for 35-40 minutes. You know what I mean.
Absolutely. I'm sure you're well aware that you have one of the more attentive audiences around, and you've got to keep them guessing.
Jimmy: Man, it's amazing how wonderful they are. They are perfectly willing to go anywhere you want to go. It's really wonderful.
Have you noticed that this is a pretty common thread with your fans with both ARU and Panic as well?
Jimmy: Yeah, I would say that. Absolutely. Panic fans are just up for anything. They don't get bored if you go on an extended improvisation. They're loving it. And when they come to these these shows and support what we're doing, I'm so grateful. It goes all the way back to the ARU days. We started playing with Panic back in those days. We were opening them with Bruce's band, and it gave us a whole new audience. Through playing with Panic, we met the guys from Phish and Blues Traveler, and we toured with them, opening for them back in the day. It's really still with us today.
It's funny. The world seems to want to put you in a category or genre, and we don't really think about music that way. We just like music. We don't really draw a line in the sand and say, "This is jazz. This is blues. This is improvisation. This is bluegrass." We don't really think in those terms. Everyone is really stylistically diverse, and it just seems like the audience loves all of it. It's just a gift to give, to be able to blow down the walls between genres with no apologies. We're lucky.
I can only imagine how rewarding that is on your end. So, how about you, Kevin? What type of impact has building this relationship and playing with Jimmy had on you?
Jimmy: Don't make me cry, Kevin. Don't make me cry!
Kevin: I've always had a weird way of putting something in my head and saying, "I'm gonna do this." When I was younger, obviously Bruce's influence on me as a person and musician was huge. But one of the first times I heard Jimmy play guitar, I was 16 years old, and I was like, "I'm gonna work with that guy one day. It's gonna happen." The difference between what Jimmy does versus any other guitar player on the planet, and I've worked with a lot of them in the jazz/fusion realm, the way he plays is who he is. Sure, when it comes down to musicianship or guitar playing, he's number one, but as a person, he's number one. That's why people are drawn to him. That's why we go play clubs, and there are 800 people in Colorado. He appeals to people because of who he is. That's something you really can't teach somebody.
The impact of as a musician, for me, a guy like him giving everyone in the band equal opportunity. That just does not happen. A lot of other bands that I've worked with, I've essentially had to answer to someone in a certain way in terms of my playing or personality. Jimmy has given everyone the opportunity to be in a band where are no side men. That's the big difference. He gives everyone complete freedom to be themselves, just like Bruce did. That's the biggest impact I've experienced. That's the way I try to lead a band too.
Working with Jimmy has definitely had the biggest impact on me as a person and my career. He's kind of set a bar that's impossible for people to get to. In this band in particular, it's the first time I've ever been in a situation on the road where on the stage, I'm completely confident. I don't have any kind of blockage to being myself. In every other project I'm in, there is essentially a certain hat that I'll have to put on, and that's good. I love all of the projects I'm a part of, and I think the music is great. In this particular band though, I'm 100% myself. I see other people who have to be someone else when they go to work for someone. I'm saddened by that.
Jimmy: I mean, why would you hire a guy who beautifully plays his or herself, but yet you're gonna say, "No. Put that in a little box over here. We'll use that only doing certain parts of the show, or not at all." I don't understand that. We're all in this thing together. You can't do it any other way, in my opinion. We're all on the stage. Everyone's voice is combined together, and that's what makes the big picture. Why would you want to stifle that in any way?
I'm blessed, because I'm lucky enough to have a great life in music. This thing we're doing here, this is just cake. It really is. It's so easy to go out and do this. It might be a rough tour schedule, but when we get on stage and get to playing, that's the easy part. It's all that easy stuff that makes it hard. The food wasn't good, or you didn't get a good night of sleep. Whatever. With those kinds of things entering the picture, why would anyone want to complicate it more by telling someone that they can't be themselves?
You mentioned that there are at least a handful of new originals in the mix. I was curious to know how the songwriting process is playing out with this band in particular.
Jimmy: You want to take this one, Kevin?
Kevin: Sure. Someone brings a sketch to the table, and then we all comment on it. That's what is so beautiful about it as a band. Obviously, there are songs with pre-written parts that have been around for a while. In terms of a new song, Jimmy might say, "Alright. I've got this progression. What can we do with it?" Rick might suggest lyrics over it. It's just open communication, which is the basis of success of anything.
Jimmy: Absolutely, and we had the luxury of getting together without gigs on the book. The first time we got together was last November, so it's been almost a year, but with no pressure. That's what I wanted more than anything, to work with some young, enthusiastic musicians who were like, "Let's see what we can do with this. Let's see where it goes." There was no pay for the rehearsals. There were no hotel rooms.
Kevin: I've gotta tell him the story of the load-out.
Jimmy: Oh yeah.
Kevin: We basically had to load out all of the gear for the tour from a box truck with no lift. We had the (Hammond B3) and a case that weigh 400 pounds. We did all of this as a band. There wasn't a single person that left. We all could've said, "I don't want to do this. This isn't my job." Everyone was in there, in the trenches, lifting this heavy ass shit and getting it done. Everyone took responsibility and said, "Let's knock this out as fast and safe as we can." It was actually a good moment to begin the tour.
Jimmy: These guys wouldn't let me help with the B3. I wanted to, but they wouldn't let me do it. We've got all these strong young people. I'll say this though. I can't imagine doing a gig without a B3 organ. It's heavy. It's a game changer. It changes your travel plan. If it weren't for the B3, we could rent a cargo van, stuff the gear in there, and we would be just fine. We could save tons of money. But you know what? Without the B3, where is the Earth? We need the B3. The B3 is critical to what we're doing. And Matt Slocum is a master of it.
Kevin: An absolute master.
Jimmy: The idea of touring without a B3 is just not an option. So yeah, I'd get down there and lift that damn B3, because I don't want to go to the next town without it. Even guys who aren't playing the B3 know how important it is.
You really can't replicate the sound of the B3. So Jimmy, this tour puts you back on the road a bit more; hopping from one city to the next. It can be a grueling lifestyle, but I know there's some excitement about getting back out there as well. What do you enjoy most about touring and playing the more intimate venues?
Jimmy: I would say that the camaraderie is probably number one. You're in the trenches together. And let's face it, a lot of people have it a lot worse. We've all had it a lot worse. There are people calling me that I've known for 30 years going, "What are you doing to yourself? You're 57 years old!" There's just a rhythm you get into with a band playing a schedule like this. You don't have a twelve man crew. You have a three or four man crew. The musicians help each other. Setting each other’s rigs up, you know?
It's hard to tear down your own rig, because people are still in the room screaming at you. "Kevin! Kevin!"
Kevin: They aren't screaming my name.
Jimmy: Oh yeah they are. They're screaming everybody's name. If they see you on stage after the show, they'll be screaming at you. But setting up your rig when no one’s around, that's easy to do. We all take part in that. It makes things easier for the four crew members we have, which are wearing five hats a piece. One guy is the tour manager, merch guy, spiritual leader, and God knows what else. You've got a guy who is guitar tech, bass tech, and keyboard tech. Then you've got another guy driving the bus. He’s out there lifting gear, and he shouldn't be. That's not his job, but everybody wants to help. I like that, and that's one of the things I take away from a tour like this.
That's not to say that I don't love when there's a twelve man crew. You show up, and everything is already done when you walk in the door. That's great. This is a different thing. I feel like with the smaller venues, well, "small" is relative. If we can't fit on the stage, I don't like that. If we're playing a venue that is too small for our footprint on stage, I'm not happy about that. When I say small, I mean any place that has a big enough stage for this five-piece band's equipment, and we do have a lot of equipment. The reason is because in this day and age, you've got Kemper and ax effects for guitar players where they plug into a computer, and it goes to the house. There are no speakers on stage. Bass player is playing through computers. Keyboard player is playing through jack-of-all-trades keyboards, or a computer.
This whole mass castration of rock and roll; where you can't play louder than we're talking right now without offending someone. I don't know what to say to those people. I think I would say, "If our band is too loud for you, I'm sorry. Don't come here." We're playing with 40 watt guitar amps. Kevin's got a SVP bass amp. It's only the sound of a generation, you know? This is the music that made us want to play. So why would we be worrying about offending someone? That's what we love. As long as we can fit on the stage, we're gonna set up close together, where we can feel each other’s sweat and communicate better with each other.
I guess I cut my teeth with Bruce in these little rooms. There is a thing that you get there that you just don't get in the bigger venues. You can call it more intimate. That's one thing. It is more intimate. The people are literally like five feet in front of you. I love that, and I don't want to hurt anyone with volume. You know, it is weird sometimes to look at the front row and realize someone's face is right in your speaker cabinet. I'll tell people to put their ear plugs in. We'll cover up the speakers with something to help keep from hurting anyone. We certainly don't want to hurt anyone, but I don't want to play through a 12-watt amp. You know what I mean?
I don't think your audience would want that either.
Jimmy: They probably wouldn't, man. But you've got to have a room that can contain these five people. If you're in a room that's too small that can't contain the sound of these five people, that's probably not good. I mean, I know that we'll be in some rooms like that. Those first three gigs we did, none of those rooms were that small. They aren't too small for our sound. We had The Gothic in Denver, The Aggie in Ft. Collins, and The Fox in Boulder. What does The Fox hold, like 700 people?
Jimmy: But it has a real stage, and we can fit on it. That room is big enough to contain our sound. We're in heaven. 700 people. That's perfect. That's what I take away from all of this. It's just fun, and it gets you back to what made you want to play in the first place.
Love hearing that. Just one more thing before we wrap this up. I know it's early, and you guys all have busy schedules, but what do you see for the 5 of 7 beyond this fall? Is this a project we could see continue and evolve?
Jimmy: The idea of it was that we would play this tour and see how we all felt about it. Having played three shows, I can say that if keeps going like this, yes it's happen again. As long as everyone in the band wants it to, and they feel like doing more. From what I've experienced thus far, I want to play more. But I'm older now. This is part of the problem. I'm older, and I love to play, man. Sometimes touring can be tough. It's not really the touring though. It's that commitment you have to make a year in advance, where you see your whole life laid out on a calendar.
It's like someone picking your clothes out for you and saying, "Here's what you're wearing on Tuesday, Wednesday..." Sometimes it's hard to make that commitment. Now that people don't buy albums like they used to, touring is a crowded place to be. I mean, we've always toured. That's our thing. We've always made records, but it's not like the records have sold enough to stay at home. We weren't Steely Dan, you know what I'm saying?
The point being, I'm just older now. You’re at the end of a tour, and people are already looking to book dates 12 months out. I'm like, "What? Wait a minute. I just want to go fishing. I don't want to think about this right now." Sometimes I just want to hide for a little bit after a tour. If I have some time, I want to see my family, go out in the woods, and do some things I didn't get to do when I was younger.
I'll probably be holding it back from being all it can be. If we were to tour 180 shows a year...oh my God, it might be able to get bigger if we toured that much. That's what it would take to make it really take off. You've got to be on the road all the time. I don't want to do that. I hope the other guys can be patient with me.
Having said all of that, after this tour, if I feel like I feel right now, I'll be willing to talk about the next batch of dates within two months after we finish. I mean, I still play with Panic, and we don't tour anymore, but we will play a lot of shows. That's the number one priority. I can't do anything that gets in the way of that. Sometimes I have to wait and see what the Panic plans are before I can do anything else, and that's fine. I love those guys, and I love being in that band. I'm sure we will play more though. So far, everybody loves each other, and we're having fun.
Watch Jimmy Herring & The 5 of 7 performing in Denver here:
Video by Coloartist
Tyler Neal Band Celebrates Album Release at The Vista Room September 12, 2019 13:08
Photos by Donna Winchester
Words by Rob Winchester
The Jauntee & The Talismen Join Forces in Birmingham on Saturday August 20, 2019 18:59
Hog Days Spotlight: North Mississippi Allstars' Luther Dickinson August 12, 2019 12:55
Photos by Jean Frank Photography
Interview by Inge Hill: Druids Charity Club
We caught up with Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars on August 1st while he was on his way to a gig in St Louis, right on the familiar banks of the Mississippi River. The Allstars will be headlining the Third Annual Hog Days of Summer, with support by Dale Watson and Will Stewart. Hog Days will take place in the Union Station Train Shed in Montgomery, Alabama on August 17, 2019. The discussion got into community music, musical collaborations, hill country house parties, BBQ, his approach to recording albums, his intentions with the blues repertoire, country music influences, and mythology in blues music. This interview was conducted by Inge Hill for Live & Listen.
All right, the benefit of the day, as I think you know is a barbecue and Americana music festival in support of Hogs for the Cause. Y'all played at their event down in New Orleans last year with your North Mississippi Osborne project. As you know, the charity benefits the families of children afflicted with pediatric brain cancer. What does playing music for the community mean to you?
Luther: I think that playing community based music is a huge honor and a privilege. I always try to be on my best behavior when I'm playing for a community. You know, it's one thing when you're playing at a nightclub and your friends, family, and fans come out and see you. But when a community invites you in, it becomes totally about them, and it means a lot. I always try to show respect to the community, because it's a responsibility to entertain and to be kind. I think in a lot of ways music is a community service. I always take those situations very seriously.
You know, my favorite thing these days is when I see, like, a mother my age singing along with us. She's dancing and singing along with the kids with a baby on her hip. Then maybe the grandparents are back in the back on a lawn chair. Man, I love that! Cause that's the way we grew up. We grew up watching my dad and his friends play while we were just running around while we were little kids!
Multiple generations, all together in one room, having a good time!
Luther: Love it!
Speaking of that show New Orleans...what a great collaboration that was with Anders (Osborne): North Mississippi Osborne. What new perspectives did you gain through your collaborations with Anders on your music, anything?
Luther: Oh man, Anders has been a huge influence on my life and my art. He's like an older brother to us, and it's funny, as soon as we met and started playing music together, our orbits kept interspersing. We kept on bumping into each other, as we're in the same circle. Recently, we haven't been playing together as much. Our orbits have become much wider. But man I miss him, and I love Anders so much. Anytime to play music with Anders or just to talk to Anders. I cherish those opportunities. He's such a wise person and such a beautiful example of positivity and also shaping your life into what you want. He's been through so much, and he's so creative. He's a true force of nature. Watching him write is like a force of nature.
You know, Carl...we started playing with Anders, and Carl Dufrene was playing with Anders, and now Carl plays with us, cause Anders moved on to some other sounds and Carl just jumped right in with us seamlessly. Which is beautiful man. So we'll bring some Louisiana love to the gig no matter what!
So, hill country house parties are the stuff of legends. It seems I've heard that RL's (Burnside) and Junior's (Kimbrough) must have been among the most infamous. Can you tell us about any of those that you may have attended or played at as an aspiring musician, or what the vibe was like at those parties?
Luther: Oh yeah! Well first of all the traditions are alive and well man. We just played the 14th annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic, and Junior Kimbrough and his family were well represented and Burnside's family was well represented. We played, and people traveled from near and far to come play. I feel like it's one of those rural regional music traditions. It's a lot like New Orleans with the musical families. It's very syncopated and real heavy. Also, New Orleans music is good time music. It's party music, you know. It's celebratory music. It's not a downer, you know?
Absolutely. There must've been someone manning the barbecue pits. Did y'all ever get into any barbecue at those parties?
Luther: Oh yeah, yeah! Othar Turner...he was a Mississippi fife and drum musician. His annual gig that he held was a picnic, as he called it. It was all based on barbecue and illegal moonshine; selling illegal moonshine liquor, you know? Food, barbecue, moonshine, and corn liquor. Those things go hand in hand with the music. The music of Mississippi hill country is like, you know, screwed and chopped from Texas. There's psychedelic rock from San Francisco; the music reflects the culture and the culture's drinking some good stuff.
Absolutely, it's kind of a blend of a variety of flavors.
Luther: Hahaha, a variety of buzzes.
Right! I do see a comparison of barbecue in that you'll find different flavor, style, and intent across regions of both barbecue and the blues. One thing about the Mississippi blues that I find really unique is the vast difference in styles across regions, and even from one town to the next when you're driving across Mississippi. To what extent did you or does your intimate exposure to this kind of musical blues gumbo effect your approach to the craft today?
Luther: Oh totally. I mean everything I do is filtered through growing up. Not only with the music of my neighborhoods that I grew up in, but also my dad's music, you know? My dad (Jim Dickinson) was a great musician, great piano player, singer, songwriter, record producer. He loved roots music of all kind. Kind of like the Grateful Dead. He would take roots music and use it for framework for his improvisation. He might play a Chuck Berry song or a Bo Diddley song and just jam on it. We learned that from dad as well, you know? The thing about hill country music that we grew up with is rhythmic based more than harmonically heavy. So, we have fife and drum music or RL Burnside's, or Junior Kimbrough. Very drone based music. Very minimal chord changes; which made it sound modern and timeless in a weird way.
Like that drone, it almost reminds me of that persistent heat that you can almost like see radiating off the highway in the summer.
One common element across blues genres is a focus on the feeling over technical perfection. I know y'all record your albums live for the most part. Can you talk about that process a little bit?
Luther: Yeah, we do. Sometimes we layer tracks. That's a fun way to build songs in the studio, but our favorite thing to do is to capture a moment you know? Get a feeling, and we strive to get live vocals. We definitely strive to get live ensemble performances from the musicians. All of the solos are recorded live. All of the improvisations are live, and we're making improvisational roots music. Why would you dissect it to put it together? If you're making rap music, pop music, or commercial music, you know, go for it put together. We're trying to capture what we do night to night out on the road, you know?
So I know you take your role as caretaker to blues music very seriously, kind of protecting the repertoire, but it's clear to me that you don't mean that the music needs to be kept as this static entity like it's in a safe or anything. Can you tell me about your intention here in regards to your role with this vast catalog of blues music from the guys before you?
Luther: Yeah, well you know that comes. My dad was a song collector as a rock first generation rock n' roller and a folk musician. He loved to write songs, but he also just loved songs. He always said that your repertoire, whoever has the most obscure songs in the coffee house was the king of the coffee house in the folk days, you know? He loved good songs and reinterpreting good songs. I learned that from him, and he taught me so many songs. Then also growing up with Othar Turner, who would like teach me by hand, or we would sit on his front porch and just improvise and just make up songs. RL Burnside...he took me on the road in '97, and I just sat at his feet every night singing along. Then these guys teach you these songs by hand, and you owe it to them to pass it along, you know?
It's folk music. It's not disposable pop music. There's nothing the matter with that, you know? It's fun writing songs, making records you want, but when you're talking about folk music and the American art form of being a song spirit, it's important to pass 'em on. And what we like doing with the Allstars is reinterpreting old melodies with a new beat, you know, like making it more palatable and danceable. To me, it's the melody and the poetry that have to be protected. The rest, you can wrap 'em up however you like!
Right, if you bring more people into the fold, more power to you!
Okay, I like that answer a lot. So, the crossover of blues and country music is where we like to play as a festival. It's fascinating how country, blues, folk, and gospel interact converge and diverge. We were kind of talking about this earlier. The other two acts at Hog Days of Summer this year have stronger country leanings. Can you speak to any influences from from your music that leans more towards country that may have affected your style, basically country influences?
Luther: Well, there's definitely the more song oriented style. I didn't grow up playing country music. I didn't grow up listening to country music, but there's definitely elements of rural music in everything. I'm more of a folk singer than a country singer. You know what I mean? I think more of what we do is more like psychedelic folk rock than anything, you know? We're not a blues band or a country band. But what I love...I love the songs like Mississippi John Hurt and the Yodeling Brakeman Jimmie Rodgers. You know he was the first guitar player to sell a million records. Jimmie Rodgers, he was one of those guys that transcends the genre. I just like pretty songs. I like pretty melodies. I don't care what label you put on it.
Right, yeah we can get too much into labels sometimes these days.
Luther: Yeah, I'm really starting to think that all those labels are old fashioned in a way. There's all just products of trying to sell music and put them in bins, you know? Put names on them so they can be sold and be consumed. In this day and age, I think we should be more open minded. It's like...everything is so influenced by everything else now and the future generations are only going to become more so. I think we should abandon those labels.
I agree with you 100%. Okay moving on, I only have a few more questions here. This next ones a little more far out. I want to talk about the mythology behind this kind of music and the persistent symbolism we see. The south, as you know, is known for its storytelling but Mississippi kind of just seems like its on another level. Focusing on music and not the rich literary tradition we have: Casey Jones, the Sugar Man and the Clear Creek Bridge, and of course the Crossroads. We love all that stuff. Is there something in the water over there that creates such vivid stories and imaginations?
Luther: Yeah, that's a great question man! I think that maybe being slow to modernize in the last century is part of it. I just think it's a great tradition of story tellers. You know there's John Henry and Stagger Lee. There's lots of great folk heroes from all regions. You got Aces and Eights. You got the coward Jack McCall. You got folk stories from the Western pioneers, the cowboys!
So, yeah man those folk legends. It's two things that I've been fascinated with in the last ten years. In the last ten years, I've gotten to know the Grateful Dead repertoire from playing with Phil Lesh, and...man! Robert Hunter was fantastic at expanding and adding to the American vernacular. You know, the American folksy road vernacular. It's been awesome to get to know Robert Hunters lyrics more and more. He's on par with Bob Dylan when it comes to the American folk mythology. It's the oral history, you know?
Yeah, I like how Robert Hunter doesn't paint a picture for you perfectly. He leaves a lot to your interpretation...
I can see that seems to fit with the southern mythology as well, where the details are a little sketchy and some of them might be true. Some of it is up to your imagination. It's all a little unclear.
Luther: Exactly, print the legend, haha.
Ah, yep. That's good stuff. Well you're driving into Saint Louis right now. It's got its own rich musical history. You're playing a gig on the banks of the Mississippi River. What were you listening to right now before I called you?
Luther: Oh man! I grabbed a stack of my dad's music to celebrate 10 years since his passing: August 15th. So I'll be listening to his records. I was listening to Ry Cooder's record Boomer's Story when you called. It was really good man, but I haven't listened to a lot of my fathers music since he passed. I really really enjoyed it today. When you mourn someone that you loved so much and collaborated with so much, the music is so close sometimes its been hard to listen to his music. So, it is really enjoyable today yeah.
Yeah he had a huge career, and I know it's a lot of material for you to listen in on. Like what he played on and produced himself.
Luther: Yeah man, we've all been so fortunate. He was fortunate. He grew up in Memphis in the 50's and later on went on to play on "Wild Horses" by the Rolling Stones and the Time Out of Mind record with Bob Dylan. He also produced The Replacements..just a wonderful career! Ry Cooder once again, all the Memphis rock n' rollers and folk music he grew up around. We're just so fortunate man. Like I said, we're so grateful to be granted the opportunity to play the music that we love. We couldn't do that without the support from people, man.
You've been doing something right, for a long time.
Luther: Trying, trying to do my best. That's all I can do!
Right, well I know your family is your rock, and I wanted to say that my wife and I are expecting a little girl in December, our first. Do you have any advice for us?
Luther: Oh, man! Well she'll lead you the way. She'll be the new boss. Just agree with your wife and try to be as easy as possible. Enjoy it! Make time for yourself to enjoy the time with the little ones, you know? It goes so fast, and it's so fun. Congratulations!
Thank you, sir! Yeah, Luther I'm gonna say this one more time, but we are so proud to have you on our stage. It's gonna be a good time in Montgomery, and I look forward to seeing y'all up there!
Luther: Thank you so much man for the support, I appreciate it. We look forward to it! Thank you man.
L&L Exclusive Premiere: "Roll It Back" with LUTHI August 6, 2019 19:35
Interview by Tiffany Clemons: Live & Listen
The funky septet that is LUTHI knows how to bring the party, and it’s a big one. “Boogie Circus” is the most colorful description of their sound so far. “We like the term Cumberland Funk too,” says frontman Christian Luthi, an homage to the river that flows through its Nashville home and a sound that blends the city's often under-appreciated musical history. What’s very evident in talking with (what they call) “The LUTHI Crew” is the shared passion for helping others let loose.
In anticipation of their new single, “Roll It Back,” that drops everywhere on Friday, August 9, (pre-save it on Spotify), we were recently able to catch up with Christian Luthi (lead) and Amber Woodhouse (sax, vocals, sparkly wardrobe) to ask a few questions. As a special bonus, we have the exclusive premiere of "Roll It Back" available for you to stream today!
LUTHI has quite a crew. Tell us how LUTHI became who it is today, and if you could have any artist dead or alive join the crew, who would it be and why?
Christian / Amber: The band came together organically. We focused on finding incredible people who were also incredible players. It’s very difficult to choose just one artist, but Prince would be quite the experience!
You are no "Stranger" to being on the road, most recently with Moon Taxi. What are some things that you learned from touring with them, and what are you looking forward to most when you hit the road in a couple of months with Magic City Hippies?
Christian / Amber: Moon Taxi has a great fan base so it was cool having the opportunity to meet so many new fans face to face. We can’t wait to travel to new markets and make new friends and fans on our tour with Magic City Hippies as well. (Check out the recap from Moon Taxi’s NYE show with LUTHI and Sparkle City Disco)
Your new single “Roll It Back” drops on Friday, and I think everyone can agree that we grow up too fast. What inspired the song?
Amber: Inspired by his time hanging with his niece over Christmas, Christian wanted to write a song about how quickly we all grow up. He says, “When we’re young we want to be old and when we’re old we want to be young.”
When it comes to creating new music, what does that process look like for the LUTHI crew?
Christian / Amber: It generally starts with the kernel of an idea, whether it’s a lyrical concept or a melody. We get together as a team and focus on listening to each other's ideas. The synergy between the crew is what brings those ideas to life.
And speaking of new music, can we expect the full follow up to "Stranger" anytime soon?
Christian: We will be releasing various singles throughout the rest of the year, and we will be compiling all of them for a physical release in the near future.
I’ve been lucky enough to catch you live a handful of times, and it truly looks like you take off to another planet (in a good way!) when performing. It's clear that you love what you’re doing. What keeps you going night after night?
Christian / Amber: We all truly feel that we were put on this planet to play music, and we feel very blessed to do it alongside our closest friends. We know we’re better together. Also, the energy from our audience gives us new life every night.
Catch LUTHI’s infectious energy on tour with Magic City Hippies this fall and a special Halloween show with Moon Taxi at Avondale Brewing Company in Birmingham, AL. Check out their full schedule and pre-save “Roll It Back,” streaming everywhere Friday, August 9, 2019.
Electric Blue Yonder Reflects on Recent East Coast Run July 3, 2019 15:57
Photo by Duncan O'Boyle
Interview by T-Bird: Staff Writer for Live & Listen
The band Electric Blue Yonder has been around for a handful of years, and has created a reputation for intimate songwriting showcases as well as raging shows in the River Region and beyond lately. We recently sat down with guitarist/vocalist Johnny Veres to discuss some of the most recent shows and plans for upcoming singles and a full-length album.
What is the lineup of the band?
Johnny: I’m Johnny Veres, I sing and play electric guitar. My wife Beth sings and plays acoustic. Russell Thomas Bush plays electric bass and upright, and Sam Pittinos plays drums as our core band, but sometimes we bring in other players and grow to the show. We also scale back to a 3 piece (upright, acoustic, and electric) so we can go from an intimate songwriter experience to a rocking show on the right stage.
Electric Blue Yonder is fresh off a tour of the East Coast. Can you tell me about some of the highlights from that tour?
Johnny: This is tough. There’s a good story in every moment of the tour.
We started by playing in a cave at a bar called Rattle Snake Saloon, which was surreal in so many ways. We half expected the chicken wire screen across the stage but thankfully they sell draft beer in styrofoam cups. Our friend Jimmy Teardrop joined us for this and the Cloverdale concert series dates just before he set out on a tour with Alex Williams. He’s a monster guitar player. It was great to hear his take on some of our music.
We played a Sofar show in NoHo at this spot called Recess that sells “hemp infused sparkling water” and everything was neon pink and blue with cloud lights on the ceiling. It felt like that room was designed for our band.
Our Sunday show at Toad in Cambridge was maybe the most memorable. We played Boston the night before and had some time to explore, so I showed Beth and Russell some of our dear friend Andrew’s old stomping grounds and went to lunch at a restaurant he had taken me to years ago. We headed over to load into the venue without much expectations for a rainy Sunday evening, but were pleasantly surprised by a bustling crew of locals doing a record swap style party where folks brought their own records and took turns playing their favorite songs. It was rad. Everyone was so warm and welcoming, and suddenly it didn’t feel so dreary. We even ran into someone that plays bagpipe for a certain Boston based group.
On top of that we met Steve Morse, a long time contributor to music at the Boston Globe and current Rock History teacher at Berklee College of Music. Steve regaled us with old industry tales, a sharp wit, and as he put it “beer on NYT’s dime.” He also wrote us these words about our music:
"I went on a whim but became a devoted fan after seeing them. They played a meditative mashup of trippy folk-rock psychedelia, cut with a raw, Alabama flavor befitting their roots. Captivating harmony vocals and skilled, almost Nick Drake-like guitar fills complete the picture. Would love to see them again."
That one felt really good.
We caught up with an old friends in Philly, saw sprinkles of family, and other beautiful humans along the way. We also played maybe the most raucous show in Americus, Georgia with our good friend and Blues player, Neal Lucas. Small town shows are great because the people that attend really care and are excited to have guests in their city. We were described as “post punk beach boys” there as well, which we totally dig. EBY always feels the love there!
Lastly, we finished up in Tuscaloosa with a friend opening that just blew our socks off, Patrick O’Sullivan. Druid City Brewing is another spot that feels like family when you’re there.
Speaking of Tuscaloosa, you and Beth just played Black Warrior Songwriter Festival there this past weekend as well?
Johnny: We did. It was awesome to get to rep EBY in a format that we don’t often get to. We’ve been told that we’re like a star peg between a square and a round hole. We don’t quite fit in either, so sometimes it’s difficult to know where to place in festivals like these. These folks had an open mind and didn’t care about “genres” so I think we all had fun together.
Do you have plans for a full-length album?
Johnny: We are working on our full length in the studio now and targeting an early fall release date.
Will it be pressed to vinyl or available to stream?
Johnny: We will definitely put it out on all digital media platforms, and vinyl will be in the future. We have our first vinyl single release coming out this summer so be on the look-out for that as well!
Do you have plans for single releases?
Johnny: There’s one more late summer before the album drops, and we just put out “Bluster” a few weeks back.
What platforms are you available on?
Johnny: All the digital ones!
When/where is your next tour planned?
Johnny: We are booking a run out to Oregon and back over September and part of October. If everything goes as planned, this will be a super special tour. If you want us to come to your town hit us up!
Do you have any shows coming up in your hometown of Montgomery, AL?
Johnny: Our next date in town is at Commerce Beer Works with Kyle Kimbrell 7/6 at 10pm (Doors at 9).
Stream Electric Blue Yonder's "Bluster" here:
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